Ms Nur Azra Fakhira considers herself an introvert. But that did not stop her from choosing a career that requires her to interact with others on a daily basis.

A part-time stint as a ticketing host at Sentosa in 2013 helped Ms Azra come out of her shell and realise that she enjoys meeting people.

Today, the 27-year-old is a senior patient service associate (PSA), who is looking forward to the opening of Woodlands Health Campus — a fully-integrated facility combining an acute and community hospital, specialist outpatient clinics, and an intermediate and long-term care facility — in 2022.

Until then, she will continue to work at Admiralty Medical Centre’s Eye Centre, where her duties include conducting visual acuity tests for patients, assisting doctors during consultations, providing financial counselling and coordinating follow-up appointments.

But that is not all there is to the job, says Ms Azra, who wants people to know that being a PSA is more dynamic than they think.

“We’re among the first faces patients see when they visit the clinic. They are often nervous — especially if it’s their first appointment — so it’s up to us to relieve some of that anxiety by making them feel welcome, assisting them where we can and showing them care and concern.

“For example, I always make eye contact with patients and smile to try and look approachable. I’ll also tell them to take care when they’re leaving the clinic. Patients appreciate these small gestures.”

Lessons in empathy and compassion

Being a PSA requires patience and sensitivity — qualities of which Ms Azra has developed since she first joined the healthcare industry as a PSA with the National University Heart Centre in 2014.

Her gentle, compassionate nature also endears her to her regular patients, some of whom she has grown to regard as family. Seeing her regular patients recover from their ailments is what she finds most meaningful about her work.

“When I’m assisting the doctors during consultations, I’m also learning about the patients’ conditions. It almost feels like I’m journeying with them from their first appointments, to their treatments and follow-up visits,” she says.

“At the Eye Centre, I’ve seen patients’ vision improving from 6/60 (being able to read only the big numbers on the eye chart) to 6/9 and even 6/6.75 (perfect vision would be 6/6) after their cataract operations, and I’m always very happy for them.”

It has been over six years since Ms Azra became a PSA and her enthusiasm shows no signs of waning. She hopes to become a team leader and mentor to her juniors in the next few years.